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Bernard Fineson to get face-lift

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Part of the plans developed by the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York include the demolition of two vacant buildings, a grass athletic field that is only used occasionally and the remains of an old grandstand structure that sit on about 12 1/2 acres of the campus. In its place, the authority will construct eight homes Ðsix one-story structures containing 12 beds each and two two-story buildings with 12 beds on each floorÐ and a program building.The Bernard Fineson Center, located in Queens Village and Howard Beach, provides housing, education and care for people with developmental disabilities throughout Queens. It operates under the state's Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities.Besides Bernard Fineson, the 300-acre Creedmoor Campus houses the Creedmoor Psychiatric Center, offices for a number of state agencies as well as recently created public schools. There is also talk of renovating Bernard Fineson's Howard Park facility in Howard Beach but that process is only in the planning phase and funding has yet to be allocated. When the construction in Queens Village is completed, 65 consumers from Howard Park will be transferred to the Creedmoor Campus over a two-year period.Construction on the Creedmoor Campus will start "sometime in February" and should be completed by 2008, according to Matthew Stanley, the senior environmental manager for the authority's Office of Environmental Affairs. The project's estimated cost is listed as $66.5 million and is being financed through Dormitory Authority Mental Health Services Facilities Improvement Bonds."It's very sorely needed," said Bernard Fineson Director Frank Parisi, noting that current behavior management techniques are hard to implement in the current buildings, which he said are "in excess of 70 years old."Under the project, the 215 people who now live on the campus will be reduced to 120 with the other residents put into a community placement program outside of the Creedmoor Campus, Stanley said. Construction is needed because the current facilities in Queens Village "are outdated, 70-year-old institutional buildings that will require major capital improvement in the future," according to the authority's draft environmental impact statement. "The purpose of implementing the proposed project is to replace these institutional facilities with a more contemporary homelike residential setting that accommodates the program requirements of the consumers." Community Board 13 Chairman Richard Hellenbrecht, the sole speaker out of the eight attendees at the public hearing, expressed his approval of the project and commended the agency on the thoroughness of the plan's documents. But he also raised a minor concern about possible community disruptions during ongoing construction."We are supportive of the concept of the project," Hellenbrecht said. "It certainly is an improvement" over the current facilities. Apparently answering his own question about construction, Hellenbrecht said: "I think most of that will be contained within the campus itself."Stanley said the next step in the process is to release a final environmental impact statement, which should be completed by the end of next week. After that, construction would be able to start. Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 173

Posted 7:02 pm, October 10, 2011
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